Board member Dale Yakaites questions approval process
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Marshfield School Board member Dale Yakaites raised questions about the board’s hiring process for principals on Tuesday as the board approved Jason Wilhelm to be the principal of Marshfield High School (MHS) and Tiffany Scheer as principal at Madison Elementary. Wilhelm will take over for resigning MHS Principal Steve Sukawaty, and Scheer will take the place of Greg Kaster, who is retiring from Madison.
Yakaites requested a vote for the approval of Wilhelm and Scheer apart from the authorization of other district hirings. Typically the board approves resignations, hirings, and transfers categorically rather than voting on each individual.
“I just think the positions of principal in particular, … there needs to be at times more board input. I don’t feel that I can vote with a lot of knowledge on Miss Scheer. It looks like what I saw in an email; her credentials look very impressive, but other than that I know nothing about this person,” Yakaites said.
Superintendent Dee Wells indicated that the full board attended Wilhelm’s interview. Wells noted that staff from the specific schools where an administrator will be hired also took part in the interview process.
Board member Amber Leifheit noted that a member of the board’s employee relations committee attends administrator interviews. Leifheit said she sat in on the interview for Scheer.
“We did have board input (in the interview process), and because we can’t micromanage, we don’t hire the employees. The superintendent does. That’s the reason we’ve set that up in that manner,” Leifheit said.
Despite that process, Yakaites expressed concern that he was being asked to approve a hiring without much prior knowledge of the candidate. Yakaites stressed that his issue was with the process the board follows, not the individual to be hired.
“There’s been a lot of concern, I guess, throughout the community about principals and leadership, … and so I’m just asking the question as to how this all happens,” Yakaites added.
The board did subsequently vote separately on Scheer and Wilhelm, approving both for their new positions unanimously. When voting to approve the hiring of Wilhelm, Yakaites took a five-second pause and then voted yes, noting, “It’s time to heal,” a possible reference to widespread discontent that Sukawaty is departing.
Board Vice President Frances Bohon suggested having a future discussion among board members about the process for interviewing and approving administrators.
Getting acquainted with the new principals
Scheer was present at Tuesday’s special board meeting and discussed her relocation from Key Largo, Florida, where she was an assistant principal, to Marshfield. Scheer was raised in northern Illinois and has family both in northern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
“We decided to come home to be with family,” Scheer said. “I settled on Marshfield because it’s a wonderful district with a lot of great things happening. … It seems like a great opportunity to grow personally and professionally.”
Wilhelm was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, but the district sent out a press release detailing the backgrounds of both he and Scheer.
Wilhelm had been “the assistant principal at Oregon High School in Oregon, Wisconsin, since 2011,” the release said.
“He is a student-centered administrator who strives to build positive relationships (with) all students and families. He has extensive experience working with department and leadership teams, budgeting, scheduling, building design, and general school operations,” the release added.
Board President Marlene Stueland noted that the district is still looking for an assistant principal to fill the role vacated by former MHS Assistant Principal Trena Loomans, who has accepted a position as the assistant principal at D.C. Everest Middle School.
Former Stevens Point Area High School Principal Mike Devine was approved as interim assistant principal at Marshfield High School on Tuesday as the district looks for Loomans’ full-time replacement. Devine “is here on a day-to-day basis, not to exceed 100 days,” said board secretary Jenni Heeg.